October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
According to the National Cancer Institute, about one out of every eight women born today is estimated to be diagnosed with breast cancer at some time during her life. It is estimated that only 5-10 % of all breast cancers are linked to gene mutations passed through generations of a family. It is not clear what causes breast cancer - but it is likely a complex combination of environmental, dietary and/or lifestyle factors/stressors. While some risk factors are out of our control (such as gender, age, genetics); the good news is that there is significant scientific research to support a number of dietary and lifestyle measures that women can take today to help prevent breast cancer.
Five Tips for Breast Cancer Prevention:
1. Optimize your vitamin D Levels
One of the simplest and most important things everyone can do to prevent breast cancer is to make sure their vitamin D levels are optimized. Vitamin D is called the sunshine vitamin because the sun is our best source. So after decades of loading up on the sunscreen, it is no surprise that a majority of the population is now deficient. Vitamin D plays an important role in many biological processes such as delivering calcium to the bones, as well as the prevention of breast cancer. Research has shown that the rate of breast cancer decreases by 30% when vitamin D serum levels are greater than 40 ng/mL compared to levels below 20 ng/mL. According to UCSD Professor and researcher Cedric Garland, maintaining a Vitamin D level between 40-60 ng/ml could prevent 75% of new cases of breast cancer.
2. Boost your magnesium intake
Over 300 biochemical processes in the body require magnesium, and it is just beginning to emerge as an important mineral for cancer prevention. A study from Sweden reported that women with the highest magnesium intake had a 40% lower risk of developing breast cancer than those with the lowest intake of the mineral. Magnesium and Vitamin D help calcium get where it is supposed – the bones. Getting too much calcium, or taking calcium without co-factors like magnesium can lead to calcifications in areas like the arteries of the heart and breast tissue. Heavy alcohol consumption also depletes magnesium, which could be one reason that drinking more than two alcoholic beverage a day raises our risk of breast cancer.
3. Take omega 3 fatty acids
Omega 3 fatty acids offer protection against heart disease, diabetes, and many different cancers, including of the breast. Omega 3s can be found in fatty fish, fish oils, chia seeds, nuts, and also algae. Research studies show that human breast cancer cells self-destruct when they are exposed to the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA. Omega 3 fats also help prevent breast cancer in another way – by inhibiting the COX 2 enzyme – which increases inflammation and promotes breast cancer. And finally, Omega-3 fats increase the expression of two tumor suppressor genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2. When functioning normally, these two genes help to repair damage to DNA, offering protective effects against cancer development. Omega 3s offer so many other health benefits including boosting our mood, brain function, and promoting a healthy heart.
4. Try Turmeric
Turmeric is an incredibly powerful anti-inflammatory & anti-oxidant herb with a rich history in Ayurvedic medicine. Turmeric is found in many curries, soups, and you can also make golden milk tea. Shown to detoxify the liver, assist in the removal of mucus, lower cholesterol, loosen stiff, sore, arthritic, or inflamed joints. Studies also suggest that curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, blocks a molecule called RANKL, which is found in aggressive breast cancer cells that makes the cancer more likely to metasticize or spread. In addition to cancer-prevention, turmuric could be useful in preventing heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
5. Eat a rainbow
Fruits and vegetables contain vitamins, minerals, fiber, and various cancer-fighting phytonutrients (such as carotenoids, lycopene, indoles, isoflavones, and flavonols). In a study of about 3000 postmenopausal women, those who consumed 25 or more servings of vegetables weekly had a 37% lower risk of breast cancer compared with women who consumed fewer than 9 vegetable servings weekly. Vegetable intake has also been inversely associated with serum insulin-like growth factor-I, which is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. Certain vegetables like cruciferous vegetables, cabbage, mushrooms, garlic and a variety of greens deliver compounds that offer powerful protection against breast cancer cells. A study of over 1,500 breast cancer survivors in China, found that those who regularly ate cruciferous vegetables for 36 months after their breast cancer diagnosis had better survival rates. Extensive research has also been conducted at Johns Hopkins Medicine regarding the nutritional value of broccoli sprouts. A study published in the International Journal of Cancer discovered that those who ate 10 grams of button mushrooms a day were 64 percent less likely to develop breast cancer.
Article by Nutritionist Sara Vance, read Ten Tips for Breast Cancer Prevention for five other breast cancer prevention strategies.
Sara Vance is a Nutritionist in the Encinitas, CA area.
Sara offers nutritional counseling, group cleanses and classes, School Assemblies, sports nutrition, healthy cooking, and more. Visit ReBalanceLife.com for more information. Friend Sara Vance at ReBalance Life on Facebook.
*This content is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons experiencing problems or with questions about their health or medications, should consult their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before taking the above foods, herbs, vitamins or supplements to be sure there are no interactions.
©2012, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.